When the world shut down in 2020, women began embracing their love of loungewear. The new work-from-home uniform consisted of all business on the top (in case you had to Zoom) and sweatpants and slippers on the bottom. Fast forward three years, and while we are back to working in offices, dining in restaurants, and traveling on planes, we still haven’t given up our love of all things lounge.
The problem is that the lines have become a little blurry as to what does, or more importantly, not constitute loungewear. Your pajamas on a plane? Not loungewear. Your baggiest, rattiest sweats? Also, not loungewear. A cute matching set in a buttery soft fabric with your favorite flats or tennies? Bingo! Perhaps that’s why so many brands are launching lines that combine everything you love about lounge, i.e., a delicious fabric and comfortable fit with flattering cuts and styles.
To be clear, we aren’t saying you must dress to the nines for every trip to the supermarket. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer tips on leveling up your loungewear in a way that looks fashionable rather than frumpy.
Athleisure vs Loungewear
The terms athleisure and loungewear are often used interchangeably. But while they may be distantly related, they are not the same. Athleisure is typically categorized by material that can be worn to your favorite fitness class. Matching sports bras and leggings in breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics that can go hard in the gym but still look cute enough for the prerequisite gym selfie are hallmarks of this look. While athleisure can easily go from barre to brunch and has become standard travel attire, you probably wouldn’t wear it to work or a nice dinner.
Loungewear, on the other hand, is a little more versatile. It lends itself to various functions from day to evening, depending on the fabric, shoes, and accessories, but it doesn’t really work at the gym. In short, while you can lounge in athleisure, you can’t typically work out in loungewear.
How To Level Up Your Lounge Look
Now that you understand the difference between athleisure and your loungewear, let’s talk about how to level up your lounge look. First, don’t try to pass off pajamas as loungewear. Yes, we know sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, especially if your pjs are of the cute jogger pant variety. A good rule of thumb: if you wear it in the sheets, don’t wear it in the streets, regardless of how cute it is. Next, don’t confuse loose fitting with baggy. Loose fitting still fits, but it’s less confining and may have roomier legs, an elastic waist, or a longer shirt hem. Baggy is, well, sloppy. Below are a few of our favorite ways to effortlessly elevate your loungewear to fashionable heights without sacrificing comfort.
Make it Match
Set yourself up for success in a matching head-to-toe look. Joggers and sweatshirts always look more chic in a monochromatic color scheme. Shades of cream, camel, black, or gray are perfect for fall and lend an air of quiet luxury to your ensemble. We love the Spanx Air Essentials collection for its super soft sets that fit and flatter in all the right places. Mixable, matchable styles give you multiple options.
Dive Into the Details
Batwing sleeves, polo collars, cowlnecks, asymmetrical hems, and pockets all take lounge to the next level. Look for something that adds interest and goes beyond the basics. We love this Athlisan adorable and affordable two-piece sweater set with its contrasting trim. Pair it with a cute pair of flats and go from errand girl to elegant.
As Clairee Belcher famously said in the hit movie Steel Magnolias, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” It is also the only thing that turns a sweatshirt into a statement. Always accessorize your loungewear to make it look intentional rather than “Oops, I didn’t mean for you to see me like this.”
A pair of hoops is an excellent place to start, and no one makes hoop dreams come true quite like Jennifer Fisher. Simple and classic, they add a touch of refinement without trying too hard. Grab a cute cross-body bag like one of the ever-popular Lululemon versions. As functional as it is fashionable, it keeps your keys, cards, phone, and lipstick at the ready. Finally, leave your dirty running shoes at home and go for a more stylish pair of kicks like Veja in a subtle color palette.
Layer Your Look
Add some layers to your look, and no, we aren’t talking about bringing back “The Rachel” hairdo. We’re referring to putting a crisp white men’s shirt under your crewneck sweatshirt and popping the color for an unexpected twist or draping a scarf or sweater loosely over your shoulders for that “fresh from the Hamptons” vibe.
Not only do layers add interest, but they are also a great way to add a shot of color to an otherwise monochromatic moment. We can’t get enough of the Barefoot Dreams CozyChic® Blanket Wrap for its beautiful drape and snuggly softness. Thrown over your favorite matched set, you’ll be all wrapped up and ready to go wherever the day takes you.
Feel out the Fabric
Even the most stylish lounge set falls apart when it’s made from cheap material. We’re not saying you have to drop a fortune on cashmere (although we wouldn’t say no to this Cashmere Jet Set Crew and Wide Leg Pant from Alo Yoga), but there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives.
The Malibu Travel Set from Frank and Eileen is made from the softest triple fleece and features a capelet and ankle-length pants at a midrange price. For a real bargain, try this set from Walmart that feels just like Lulu’s popular cozy Scuba knit for less than half the price.
We know you want to live in your loungewear, and now you can! With the right accessories, flattering fits, and fabrics, you can find a way for comfort and style to coexist beautifully. Now, about those ratty, gray sweats….